Celebrating 30 years of existence, Infiniti announced that it was time for a radical change this week. While sales have improved since the recession, last year saw a slight decline in volume which continued significantly into 2019. Year-to-date, Nissan’s volume is down 6 %, with Infiniti posting a 17.1% loss – we discussed this earlier today, if you’re interested.
Most of this saga takes place in the United States, where Infiniti sources most of its sales. China and Europe are footnotes for the manufacturer. Still, Infiniti would very much like to improve its global appeal, which is why it is betting on the adoption of electric vehicles as the next global consumer craze.
Considering how many countries are adopting strict emissions targets, Nissan’s premium branch could make a wise choice. However, the United States hasn’t been as eager to push (or embrace) automotive electrification, which means Infiniti could endanger the one market that keeps it afloat. Unfortunately, the status quo doesn’t seem to be working either, encouraging the automaker to embrace alternative powertrains and design cues in the years to come.
Visually, the brand underscores its Q Inspiration concepts as it pivots to a new “Powerful Serenity” design language. While named design languages are typical of the industry, Japanese automakers like to tie things in with tradition. Infiniti is no different, saying its new design language is directly inspired by the timeless art of origami – something to do with folded bodywork.
In truth, Q Inspiration vehicles look less bent than most automotive products currently rolling out of Japan. The theme seems to revolve more around muscle vehicle upholstery with thin headlights, a long taillight and recessed “grills” that redirect air around the body for aerodynamic efficiency. The interiors are said to be minimalist and more spacious.
While not bad looking, there are concerns that the look will quickly become stale. Most of Infiniti’s future products will be crossovers, and those design cues are things we’re starting to see popping up everywhere. Removing the traditional grille homogenizes the exterior appearance of a vehicle and already seems to be a trend for higher performance electric vehicles. Many electric models have already chosen to put plastic where the grille would be; CAD renderings of a new Mustang “inspired” Ford EV also sport the recessed grille surround.
We think you’ll see a lot.
As for powertrains, Infiniti says it plans to embrace electrification with battery-only vehicles and upgraded e-Power (hybrid) systems doing the rest. Originally placed inside small Nissan vehicles, the system uses an internal combustion engine as a generator to charge the vehicle’s battery, rather than providing direct propulsion. From there, the energy is sent to the electric motors of each axle.
Although technically a hybrid, Infiniti said it wasn’t sure if it wanted to use the term – as e-Power doesn’t operate like a typical hybrid, although it still relies on petrol. He also does not want to use the name e-Power; the moniker belongs to Nissan and Infiniti plans to use larger versions of it, mated to larger batteries. While it won’t do anything to improve range (a non-issue, since you can just fill it up with gas), it will provide more power to the electric motors that drive the car.
“As we look to the future, we will capitalize on a range of exciting opportunities to reestablish the Infiniti brand’s reputation for innovation and challenging convention in the premium car segment,” said Vice-President. Infiniti Chairman Mike Colleran.
“We will deliver exciting electric and electrified powertrains, performance-enhancing driver assistance technologies and a range of vehicle designs unparalleled on the road. For 30 years, the Infiniti logo has reflected our desire to look forward. future. As we take a brief look back at what we have accomplished to date, we are still excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for Infiniti.”
The fervor of the brand’s push towards electrification is up for debate. Even though the announcement gives the impression that the brand intends to go headfirst into electric vehicles, there is a clear lack of specificity in its press materials. Still, the brand seems very eager, and we know it intends to launch a production sedan based on the Q Inspiration Concept in 2021. That will be followed by an all-electric SUV based on the QX Inspiration Concept the Next year.